The case for co-education

This morning Rose was playacting while I was doing her hair. In a babyish voice she asked me, “Why do I have to go to school?”

“Why do you think you have to go to school?” I countered.

“I don’t know; that’s why I asked you the question.”

“I’ll bet you can come up with some reasons.”

“Because if I didn’t go to school, I would never get smart, and I wouldn’t be able to count my children.”

This reminded me of one of my favorite Calvin Grondahl cartoons. (He’s a Mormon cartoonist. I just checked to see whether this cartoon of his from a couple of decades ago had been put online yet, and the 4th Google hit for “Calvin Grondahl nuclear physicist” is a post of mine from three years ago.)

Anyway, the cartoon shows a young Mormon woman sharing her testimony from the pulpit, saying, ““And so I came to BYU to study nuclear physics, not so that I could become a nuclear physicist, but so that I could teach nuclear physics to my children in the home.”

By the way: I have five.

That’s an easy number to keep track of when they’re standing still. But I do a lot of recounts when I try to take them anywhere.

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This entry was posted in My kids actually are funny (and sweet and wonderful), Parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The case for co-education

  1. Lili says:

    Love the illustration. 😉

    • the MomB says:

      Of course you do–she got it from me! I’m pretty sure I sent it to you too. Or maybe I just sent it to Z because she has 5 bunnies.

      • Lili says:

        Oh, haha mom, I’ve found these bunny illustrations online before (and I ADORE them)… Do you own this book?! Or have you just saved the illustrations from the internet? I’d love to see it if you have it!

  2. Lili says:

    (and the story, haha)

  3. Jason says:

    So amusing!

  4. the MomB says:

    I love it all, all of it.

  5. ashley christenson says:

    Sorry Z but that cartoon you described rubs me the wrong way. I didn’t go to BYU so maybe I don’t understand that this is more a jab at BYU culture than a jab at women who study science– but I’ve been musing over what the underlying assumptions are that would make this cartoon funny to some. Is it that one should not be “overqualified” or intellectual for the job of mother? Is it that women who study nuclear physics aren’t the “type to marry”? Is it that it is a waste to study something that isn’t directly applicable to your future? I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pick on you. I guess that as someone who studied physics in college and then became a mother that path just doesn’t seem strange to me. I studied physics because I found it fascinating and it is what was interesting to me. Someday maybe I’ll use it- I’ll be a high school physics teacher or something. But for now I’m counting my 5 soon to be 6 children and if I can use my physics knowledge to answer the “why is the sky blue?” type questions my kids ask, I’m cool with that!

    • zstitches says:

      I think that as mothers we use everything that we studied before we became mothers, as well as using lots of skills and knowledge we acquire along the way. And well-educated women tend to have well-educated children.

      But the reason the cartoon is still funny to me is because the saying “not so I can become a ____, but so that I can teach ____ to my children in the home” is a cliché not typically applied to subjects as rigorous or with as obvious career paths as nuclear physics. Physics can be useful in child-rearing, but it’s just not the first thing you think of as a subject that translates into a domestic career. Other versions of the cliché were almost certainly said from the pulpit (or in other earnest settings) many, many times in an earlier era (I don’t think the saying is used by current college students) but “nuclear physics” probably just didn’t get talked about that way; it’s much more common for someone who studies science to have a career objective in mind.

    • zstitches says:

      Or in other words, YES the joke is making fun of BYU/church culture (of a generation or two ago). Or in yet other words, while there are excellent reasons for future moms to study any subject, nobody says, “I want to be a mom, but first it’s essential that I get a physics degree.” So the cartoon is also making fun of the saying.

    • zstitches says:

      Or in yet OTHER words, nobody should have to defend their educational pursuits as being valid only because they have application to motherhood. Even if the things we study do, in fact, have application to motherhood–and, as I said earlier, I think our kids do benefit from everything we learn–the things we study are also valid just because they are interesting to us and enrich our minds and lives.

      And that’s probably why the cartoon’s been a favorite of mine for so long–because in one line it says everything that it just took me three comments to say.

  6. ashley christenson says:

    Ok, maybe I wasn’t delving deep enough. 🙂

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